“I have taken time to study the package called APC and come to realise that it won’t work. And any serious politician who knows his onions would not want to be in a ship that is bound to crash.”
It was only a matter of time for the simmering, intra-party storm rocking the ship of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) political party to tear it apart. From the outset in 2013, its formation was not based on any enduring political philosophy. Rather, it came with the agenda to oust the then People’s Democratic Party (PDP) alleged of massive corruption in the corridors of power.
The APC therefore, climbed the pedestal of power buoyed with a well-articulated campaign slogan of ‘change’, making a lot of fanciful promises to the long-suffering Nigerians. Indeed, it pledged to offer a paradigm shift from the era of squander-mania to that of accountability with the mantra of Integrity. And millions of the voters believed in the party.
But five years down the line, the political market whirlwind has unveiled the self-seeking dramatis personae, once hidden behind their mesmerising masks! Not only have the likes of Bukola Saraki, Dino Melaye and their sympathizers jumped ship back to the PDP, sometime ago, but the face-off between the cabal in the presidency and the Jagaban of Borgu, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu with his ‘boy’ Adams Oshiomhole has inadvertently led to the temporary emergence of Victor Giadom as the acting chairman, backed with a court ruling. That was before the meeting of the National Executive Committee of the APC on Thursday, June 25, 2020.
Not only has the decision to dissolve the National Working Committee (NWC) been taken but a Caretaker Committee has been set up, headed by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State. The committee will run the affairs of the party for six months. The implications, according to political pundits, is that the decision has pulled the carpet off the feet of Adams Oshiomhole returning as APC chairman. It has also weakened Tinubu’s touted presidential ambition. As a revered political strategist, what is next for him and his legion of supporters? The unfolding high-wire political drama will be interesting. And only time will tell.
It should however, be noted according to Adeniyi Bashiru in his work on the topical issue of intra-party conflicts that they have always been part and parcel of the pot pourri of our political landscape, long before Nigeria’s political independence in 1960. It has only worsened over the decades.
In the words of Muhammed (2008:11), “The intra party conflict has remained a predominant feature of partisan politics in the Nigeria’s Fourth Republic. Virtually all major political parties in this republic are afflicted with the virus of internal crisis.” Echoing the position of Muhammed in the year preceding the 2015 general elections, Olorungbemi (2014:248) avers that, “Since the inception of the present democratic rule in 1999, political party organisations were transformed into a battle field characterised by hatred, enmity, victimisation and suspicion resulting from bitter struggles among party members in their quest to achieve public and/or personal interests”.
Interestingly, the formation of the APC on 6 February, 2013 was as a result of intra-party conflicts in some other parties. It came forth upon the merger of the then All Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP), the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Before then, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had the country’s political scene in its firm grip. Apart from winning the presidential elections, it controlled both the Senate and the House of Representatives. In addition, it also controlled some state governments, including various states’ Houses of Assembly and Local Government Councils. It was therefore, believed that with such formation, the APC would learn from the mistakes of the PDP. But has it? The answer is obvious.
With only one-and-six months in political control, in the second term, the querulous issue of the tussle for the soul of the party reared its ugly head. In fact, Tomi Ikimi, who was the catalyst during merger talks between the different factions, resigned from the party on 26th August 2014. His position was crystal clear.He accused the National leader of the APC, Tinubu and his group for foisting ‘strange leadership’ on the party.
Put in its proper perspective, Ikimi’s resignation was because of the leadership crisis that came as a spin-off effect of the National Convention of the party held in Abuja on 13thJune 2014. In a detailed letter sent to the then Chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun, dated 27 August 2014, he openly accused Tinubu of “hijacking the party for his personal aggrandizement”.
A lot of murky water has since passed under the political bridge between then and now. For the critical observers of the country’s turbulent polity, who are devoid of political partisanship but driven more by how people-oriented good governance could be enthroned in Nigeria, the current intra-party squabbles bedeviling the APC throws up more questions than answers.
For instance, would it eventually assist to bring out the best of leaders to grow the nation’s economy already besotted by debilitating debts and the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic? Will it reduce the huge cost of accessing political leadership and by extension, reduce the humongous pay package of our political office holders? Will it engender inter-ethnic peace and harmony? That is not all.
Will political instability, occasioned by power-poaching, intra-party intrigues, subterfuge and gambits within and between political parties assuage the common man’s pains? Will it not ignite crimes via armed political thugs to cause chaos and anarchy, especially during the forthcoming elections in Edo and Ondo states and subsequently during the presidential and state governorship elections as we approach 2023?
One’s averred position therefore, is that the type of democracy we currently practise is antithetical to the wishes, dreams and aspirations of the average Nigerian. A democracy that pauperises the citizenry but makes billionaires out of once well -known street hustlers, touts and thugs within four years or less; who break the rules with impunity, is not the best for us.
A democracy built on lies, false promises, nepotism, religious and ethnic sentiments, using the force of intimidation to cow the opposition and silencing dissenting voices is far from the dreams and desires of our founding fathers for this potentially great nation.
The time to restructure this tottering and crumbling edifice, to be rebuilt by a set of selfless, patriotic, intelligent, focused leaders, who see the country as one, and are driven by the national interest, is now, not tomorrow.